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Exercise while on Beta Blockers

Donald K. Shaw, PT, PhD, D.Min., FAACVPR

June 9, 2014

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Question

How do people on beta blockers and blood pressure lowering medications tolerate exercise?  How can they increase their cardiac output?  

Answer

These are great questions.  Let’s take this in parts.  How can someone on beta blockers and blood pressure lowering meds tolerate exercise?  They tolerate it very well.  In fact, patients on beta blockers and blood pressure lowering medications should certainly be exercised.  Here is the neat thing about the rating of perceived exertion.  It has been found in studies that regardless of a person’s heart rate response or if they are on beta blockers medication, the person’s perception of how hard they are working is constant.  Even though the heart rate might be blunted when they reach an exertion point of 13 (which is the number to stop exercising), it can be counted on as being reliable and valid in terms of their exertion for the moment.  I would use the rating of perceived exertion to access the patient.  How can they increase their cardiac output?  Any kind of endurance exercise, even though the mechanism tends to be a bit blunted by the medication, can certainly help improve blood flow to the heart. 


donald k shaw

Donald K. Shaw, PT, PhD, D.Min., FAACVPR

Donald K. Shaw, PT, PhD, D.Min.,  FAACVPR is a Professor in the Physical Therapy Department at Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Shaw is a Fellow and former national board member of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. He has lectured and presented research in Argentina, Scotland, Ireland, the Peoples Republic of China, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and throughout the United States. His published work appears widely in medical journals including the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Respiratory Care, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal, Heart and Lung, Journal of Allied Health, and the American Journal of Cardiology. Dr. Shaw has received several university awards for both teaching and scholarship.

 


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